Taking Urgent Steps to Facilitate Cremation of those who have Died on Account of COVID-19: Delhi Government tells Delhi HC

By Ishaan Seth

The Delhi Government has informed the Delhi High Court that immediate steps are being taken to facilitate the cremation of those who have died due to COVID-19 pandemic. The statement was made before a Division Bench of Chief Justice, Justice DN Patel and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal after the Court took suo motu cognizance of storage and cremation facilities for those who have died due to COVID-19.

The Court has also taken note of the situation wherein the bodies of those who had died 5 days ago had not be cremated and inside the largest COVID-19 mortuary of Lok Nayak Hospital (LNJP), all 80 storage racks were full, with 28 more bodies on the floor, piled on top of each other. The Delhi Government has said that these situations are result of unavoidable circumstances. These circumstances include reduced capacity of Nigambodh Ghat, crematorium workers refusing to co-operate, sudden increase in COVID-19 cases, relatives or families not coming forward to claim bodies, etc.

Delhi Government has informed that in view to control and manage this situation, LNJP has been authorized to divert bodies to crematoriums at Panchkuian and Punjabi Bagh, as opposed to only Nigambodh Ghat. Wood-fired traditional cremations have been authorized, in addition to electric and CNG furnaces. PPE kits are being provided for all workers, as well as bodies. Crematoriums to now function from 7 am to 10 pm as opposed to the earlier working hours of 9 am to 4 pm.

It was further added that on May 28, 28 bodies were cremated and by May 30, another 35 bodies would be cremated. Only those bodies which have not been investigated will not be cremated yet.

The Court has now directed the Delhi Government to file a status report in the matter.The matter would be heard next on June 2.

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